With upbeat debut single, XOXO ‘let’s the world know’ its talent
Vanessa Balbuena (The Freeman) - September 29, 2020 - 12:00am

CEBU, Philippines —  Launched in August 2019 after their stint on GMA Network’s singing competition “The Clash,” girl group XOXO had to wait a year for their debut single to be released.

Their GMA Artist Center management had plans for their first track, but the production kept getting postponed due to scheduling conflicts. And then the pandemic came.

Composed of Cebu’s Dani Ozaraga, Cagayan de Oro’s Riel Lomadilla, Davao’s Lyra Micolob, and Bulacan’s Mel Caluag, XOXO – GMA’s newest female group since 2008’s La Diva – spent the past year honing their vocals and dance moves through gigs and guest spots.


“We also needed to train more and prepare for our single because we’re still newbies. We were used to being solo performers, so we had to make ourselves ready,” said the quartet’s Sweet Girl Mel, answering questions sent by The FREEMAN.

Dani said they also wanted their debut to reflect their personalities, “so we really waited for the perfect song.”

They finally got to record their track before the community quarantine was announced. The next hurdle was planning its release amidst the lockdown.

Also titled “XOXO,” the upbeat song is a call for women empowerment (We are X.O.X.O. we’re ready to go/We gotta be free come on and spread those wings/We gotta speak we got our voice for them to hear/It’s but time we let the world know/We got what it takes/So let them show/We gonna keep on, keep on flyin’”) and the group’s way of introducing themselves to the world. Reviews from here and abroad have been glowing so far.

“I hope the single becomes a gateway to a brighter future for us,” said Riel, whose thick and powerful vocals had her christened XOXO’s The Diva.

Lyra, she with the deep raspy voice, is the Tough Girl. Dani, a known belter, takes on the Fierce and Sexy persona. While Riel, Lyra and Mel were right away comfortable with their assigned identities as these were based on their personalities, it was Dani who felt huge pressure with her tag.

“We all know that I’m not the typical standard that society considers to be sexy. I’m not slender. But later on, I began to embrace my own kind of sexy,” said Dani, who hails from Danao City and was known as Cebu’s Lagari Queen before trying her luck in Manila.

“That’s also our goal as XOXO – to inspire people that no matter their kind of body type, skin color and physical appearance, if you feel confident in your own skin, that’s when your sexiness will exude. Confidence is the key. Body positivity!”

For a group that had to learn choreography for their single, Riel said they struggled to communicate with one another during the first few months of lockdown, due to their distance and poor internet signal. It took time, but they eventually learned to adjust.

With numerous cancelled guestings and events, the girls said they were definitely impacted by the pandemic. Still, they made sure to remain productive at home.

“We find ways to be visible on social media by uploading covers. Thankfully, through online, we still managed to earn during quarantine,” said Dani.

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